A Dragonfly a Day- Blue-tailed Damselfly

Originally published 09/07/2015.


The Blue-tailed Damselfly, Ischnura elegans, is another species that is fairly easy to identify, making it another good damselfly for beginners. The females of this species have several colour forms, making it a real treat to spot, as you will often get more than one colour form in one place. The Blue-tailed is a stunning, elegant damselfly and luckily, is a fairly common species.

Male Blue Tailed Damselfly. Photographer: Thomas Bresson

Male Blue-Tailed Damselfly. Photographer: Thomas Bresson

The Blue-tailed Damselfly can be found in a variety of habitats, including lakes, ponds, canals and ditches. It can also be found in slow-flowing rivers and streams and is tolerant of polluted waters. It is very common and widespread in the UK.

Both sexes of this species have a black abdomen with a characteristic blue coloured segment 8. This colouration of segment 8 can occasionally be brown in some of the female forms.

Female Blue Tailed Damselfly. Photographer: Charles J Sharp

Female Blue-Tailed Damselfly. Photographer: Charles J Sharp

Adults of this species tend to stay close to water, often hovering around emergent or water-side vegetation. They are more active in cloudy weather compared to other damselfly species and can often be seen in large numbers.
Mating takes longer in this species compared to most and can last up to 6 hours. Due to this, it is common to see this species in tandem and in the wheel.

Similar Species
The scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly, Ischnura pumilio, the Red-eyed Damselfly, Erythromma najas, and the Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Erythromma viridulum, are all fairly similar to the Blue-tailed Damselfly. Both of the Red-eyed species can be told apart by the fact that they have red eyes, which the Blue-tailed Damselfly does not have.

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Rachel Davies

Rachel Davies

Currently studying for an MRes in Wildlife Conservation at the University of Chester. Research focuses on the White-faced Darter, an endangered dragonfly species here in Britain. Rachel also has a blog titled 'working with wildlife'.
Rachel Davies

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